Although we hadn’t finished our argument, Alan isn’t surprised to see me walk into his workroom shortly before Rage and his entourage of priests and Sister Mays arrives. The priests are there to keep an eye on Rage, and Sister Mays is there to keep an eye on the priests.
The men sit around a worktable empty except for the four books stacked next to Alan, but Sister Mays and I just lurk in the background, encouraging them to forget about us. Rage leans heavily on a long walking stick, but walks in under his own power. And without any sign of a book, though his robes are full enough to have multiple things hidden in them. I drift toward the door, ready to block any guards from entering, but they stay outside, the door cracked slightly so they can hear any commotion. Rage looks at the books, surprise and greed warring for control of his face.
Alan opens one of the grimoires and shows the page to Rage. “This is slightly unusual—levitation.”
Rage settles on surprise as his main emotion as Alan lets him take the book. “It works?”
Instead of answering, Alan grows still. A short stool rises into the air, hovers there for a moment, then crashes down, bouncing slightly as it lands. “It mostly works, as long as you are going up or hovering, but coming down is more problematic. It doesn’t feel like spell-failure, there is none of the sucking/sick before, it just ends. I think the spell partly works, and needs some refining. That is what I’m working on right now. Along with a few other things.”
I’m surprised he doesn’t mention the blow-things-up experiments; Rage looks like someone who would like to blow things up. Maybe Taver asked Alan not to.
“How many spells can I copy? I should get at least one for each I lose.”
This sounds good, maybe things will go well. The priests are calm enough too, but then they have already burned the spells in Alan’s grimoires that make them nervous. Or so they think, anyway.
“You can copy all you want. It is ridiculous that so much has to be rediscovered over and over because it isn’t shared.”
“What kind of Sorcerer are you.” Rage sounds more confused than insulting.
“He’s a Mage,” I answer for Alan, because I don’t really trust what he will say. “And,” I continue, knowing the next thing Rage will ask just as surely as if I can read his mind, “A Mage is a Sorcerer with morals.”
“Or at least a moral girlfriend.” Alan grins at me.
“You are all crazy.” Rage sounds even more confused. But he pulls a books from a pocket in his flowing robes. He holds it tightly, looks at Alan, looks at me, even looks at Sister Mays. Finally, he opens it, laying it flat on the table so Alan and one of the priests can see the pages. “But if anything is to be removed, I’ll do it.”
“That is perfectly agreeable,” the priest tell him.
Sister Mays looks on with approval as they go through his grimoire page by page, until they have a stack of six pages cut out waiting to be burned.
Everyone except me is surprised when Alan pushes his grimoire toward the priest, “You haven’t looked at this one either.” They cut out two more pages to add to the stack.
Sister Mays and I back off as the priests take the pages to the fireplace and start feeding them to the flames one at a time, Rage clutching his mutilated grimoire to his chest as he watches.
“You probably want to start with my grimoire,” Alan offers, “It isn’t in code. I have broken the code in the other three, but haven’t copied out all of the spells yet.”
“You are the strangest Sorcerer I have even met.” I don’t think Rage even hears my correcting ‘Mage’. He stares into space for a moment. “You can…” he pauses as if the words hurt, then tries again. “You can read my grimoire, too.” Yeah, the words definitely hurt.
I tune out of the conversation, and start a mental list of what we are going to need. First, Alan is going to need a library, no way father is going to approve a Sorcerer hanging around Mynar’s—which Alan must have already figured out since he brought the grimoires to his workroom. And equally ‘no way’ should the grimoires be kept in a workroom where boiling water and pieces of paper mache go flying about on the best days, and minor explosions happen on the less better days. I don’t even want to think about what could happen on a bad day.
I start paying attention again when Alan mentions scrying spells.
“I have a good one,” Rage admits, “But it does tend to throw pieces of broken mirror at you when it fails.”
“That’s why I use water and paper mache bowls. And I usually get some warning before it fails, a slight shimmering in the water.”
Rage is impressed that Alan can get clear images in water. “I want that spell first; Scrying is a good way to make money, and I need to support my family.” Suddenly his tone turns bitter, “My days of traveling and finding adventure are over.”
“I wouldn’t worry, it has been my experience that if you just sit peacefully in Misthold, adventure will travel to you.”
Afterward Alan and I go to talk to father, finally finding him in mothers solar. Alan doesn’t have much to report. “He let the priests burn any spell related to demons.” Alan knows what father wants to hear first. “And, once he realized I really meant to let him read the other grimoires, he offered to let me read his. He would have a hard time trying to travel with his damaged leg, and winter is near. I think he wants to stay here at least until spring, and so will be unlikely to cause trouble.”
“Could I trust him to keep the scrying secret?”
Alan only shrugs in answer.
“Do you really think,” mother interrupts, “that it is likely to stay a secret? How many people already know.” She has a point. “And do we care?”
“Getting information faster than others is an advantage. But getting information from addition locations will also be an advantage, and I will need to send the couriers with instructions in the next few days to be sure they reach their destinations before the snows start.” Father takes a deep breath. “Find out from Rage if he is willing to scry for me, and how many times per day he can do it.” Father pulls over a piece of paper and writes on it. “I won’t give him a court title, but I will offer him a decent stipend, and I will do that in writing.”
“And tell him,” mother adds, “that after one year, the house will also be his. I’m sure his wife will be very glad to have somewhere to call home after all of the years of traveling.”
“You want him to stay?” Father stares at mother as if hoping he didn’t really hear what he undoubtably heard. Mother just smiles back at him. “Just the stipend,” father decides. “But,” he continues before mother can start arguing with him, “if things work out, then I will tell him in the Spring that after a year the house will be theirs.”